Saturday 28 September 2013



Middlewich's Rose Queen 2013 and her retinue were at the Artisan Market on September 28th 2013 to raise funds for the chosen charity for the year, the Guide Dogs For The Blind, and also for people to register to participate in Rose Fete 2014. 
The stall was set up in the Bullring to enable townspeople to talk to the Queen and her retinue and offer help with fundraising.

Rose Fete publicity and
fundraising, September 2012



Thursday 26 September 2013



The Nostalgia Quiz was designed simply to get the Middlewich Nostalgia Weekend off to a flying start, and to raise a little bit more money for the Mayor's Charities.
There were rounds on: Music of the 50s, Music of the 60s, Music of the 70s, 'Bits & Pieces' (mystery voices, vintage TV and radio programmes and ads etc), 'Dead or Alive' (famous people of the 50s-70s - are they dead or alive?) and a picture round featuring celebrities of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
The Quiz was compiled and presented by Dave Roberts and administration and scoring was by Peter Cox.
Details of the teams and winners, along with some of the questions (and answers) will be posted here in due course.

Cllr Bernice Walmsley, Mayor of Middlewich wrote on Friday 27th:

Great evening last night at the Boar's Head for the Nostalgia Quiz. Great fun and we raised over £50 for the Mayor's Charities. Thanks to Dave Roberts and Peter Cox for organising such an entertaining quiz, and to everyone who supported it.

Friday 20 September 2013


by Dave Roberts
This photo, taken in 1989 by Daniel Preston, is a good example of a picture which captures a moment in time and illustrates how small changes can 'creep up' on us almost without our noticing.
It's one of those photos where everything  looks familiar and yet, somehow, not quite the same.
Daniel took the picture because he was interested in that unusual red and white car (described by him as a 'pram car') and in the process captured, in the background, a little piece of Wheelock Street which has altered over the years, but not beyond recognition.
On the left is Cynthia's Patisserie, at that time simply that. A cake and pie shop.Always very popular and serving high quality food to passing customers
In 2013 Cynthia's is still going strong and many of those customers now linger awhile and take advantage of the tables and chairs on the pavement outside, allowing them to have a snack and a coffee and pass the time of day.
Next door is  Prudential Property Services, now a branch of Reeds Rains and fulfilling the same function in 2013.
This shop has a long history, dating back at least to Victorian times and can be seen in this classic Middlewich scene with ornate gas lamps attached to its walls.
And then comes the Alhambra, dating back to 1920.
Originally a cinema (universally acknowledged to be one of the best in Mid-Cheshire throughout its 40-odd years of service to the town) and now a Chinese Restaurant with a Spanish name.
The ornate art-deco frontage has survived intact throughout the changes the building has seen over the years.
At the time of the photograph the front section of The Alhambra was, controversially, the home to an amusement arcade (the building also catered for bingo and snooker players) and, long before the term 'anti-social behaviour' was invented, people were expressing alarm at the 'great harm' this was doing to the young people of the town, who were liable to run amok because of the licentiousness and decadence brought about by habitual playing of Pinball and Space Invaders.
One councillor felt constrained to point out that Wheelock Street was 'not Blackpool Prom'.
Which, of course, it isn't.
Apparently, playing on slot machines and video games automatically turns any young person into a hardened criminal overnight, meaning that we all run the risk of being murdered in our beds.
Somehow the town survived this threat to our safety and well-being and now the slot machines and video games have been replaced by the entrance to the Alhambra Chinese Restaurant, memorably captured in this night scene by Bill Armsden.
Why don't you take a look through your own photo albums and see if you have. perhaps unintentionally, captured a similar background scene showing Middlewich as it used to be?


Tuesday 17 September 2013


The October/November edition of GO LOCAL Magazine is now out and being delivered throughout the town. This edition has news of the Nostalgia Weekend at the end of this month, the Christmas Shopping Evening at the Town Hall (Function Suite) on November 28th and the Christmas Fayre on the 29th and 30th November.
There's also, as usual, plenty of  information on local services and amenities and a comprehensive What's On section.
Features include the story of the Gunpowder Plot and a fascinating article on Middlewich's heritage by Julie Elizabeth Smalley in which she tells of plans for a third (or should that be fourth?) canal serving the town and linking Middlewich with Altrincham. If these plans had ever come to fruition, Middlewich would have been a very different place indeed.
Watch out for your copy of GO LOCAL today!


Coronation Celebrations in St Ann's Avenue, Middlewich, June 1953

by Dave Roberts
We thought we ought to publish this photo before this Diamond Jubilee year ends. It comes to us courtesy of Malcolm Hough of Wych House Lane and was in turn loaned to him by Alan Berry.
The photo shows the people of St Ann's Avenue posing for a commemorative portrait on Coronation Day, June 2nd 1953.

Improved version by Bill Armsden
Here's an enlarged and improved version by Bill Armsden (you may have to scroll sideways to see it all, depending on your browser). Many thanks to Bill for this.

Are you on this photo? Do you know the people on it? How many of them are still living in Middlewich? How many of them are still in St Ann's Avenue?
If you can help, please feel free to download the picture and show it around. Downloading will also enable you to perhaps zoom in a little more than we've been able to.
If you don't know, the procedure on most computers for saving a photo from the net is to right click the picture with your mouse and select 'save image as' from the pop-up list (the wording may be slightly different on some browsers) and then give the photo a title and save it on your computer.
We look forward to hearing from you!

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Bill Armsden One of my old friends iis in the picture - John Bailey, along with his brother and his mother. The picture was taken right outside their house, which is the door on the right of the two shown in the picture

Cliff Astles Whose are the donkeys? Do they belong to Joey Berrington? I remember he had at least one, and it was kept at his house (farm) just before the St Ann's Road Bridge over the Shropshire Union Canal, when going towards St Ann's Road.


Friday 13 September 2013


We believe this image to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright, or know who does, please let us know
by David Roberts

Today we're trying to fathom the vexed question of Lawrence Gardens and Lawrence Avenue. As we've seen here, Lawrence Avenue in the present day is in two halves,split in half by St Michael's Way (or the Middlewich Inner Relief Road, to give it its original, more prosaic title) and is always referred to officially as 'Lawrence Avenue' East and West. Some of the older inhabitants of Middlewich, however, still refer to this former thoroughfare, which at one time formed a handy alternative route between Wheelock Street and Webb's Lane, as 'Lawrence Gardens',  the two names  being used  interchangeably.
 For some time now we've been trying to find out just when 'Lawrence Gardens' became 'Lawrence Avenue'. 
 It's one of those things which happen slowly and gradually in small towns, when an area changes, almost with anyone noticing, over the years. 
But when was it decided that 'The Gardens' should become 'The Avenue'?
Who decided it?
Obviously the Middlewich UDC must have had a hand in it (although the situation is complicated by the fact that the road is unadopted) because the signs indicating the name of the Avenue seem to be of pre-1974 vintage.
 The fact is, that nobody seems to know.
 Even an appeal to the ultimate authority, Allan Earl, was inconclusive so here we'll take a look at the evidence provided by old photographs and maps. 
We won't find out when the name was changed, but we can at least take a look at how Lawrence Avenue has altered during  a period of more than a hundred years.
Over half a century separates the photographs above and below.
 The top photograph depicts an almost semi-rural scene in  the Edwardian era.
Everyone's happy and eager to pose for the camera, with even the family's pet dog getting a look in.
 In the background more people have turned out to see what the photographer is up to and to get themselves immortalised on film in a record of a moment in time which we are privileged to be able to recall all these years later.
On the extreme left is the rear of the current Brooks and Bostock premises, which fronts onto Wheelock Street. A very much altered building which in former days had bay windows at the front, in common with a lot of the houses in the area.
Next in the row is the converted house which is now home to David Reeves & Co's dental surgery and the other houses of the same period which still flourish today and add a bit of charm to this end of town which has suffered a decline in recent years.
Behind the children in the right background are a profusion of trees which must be part of the gardens which gave the road its original name. It's impossible to tell from this picture, of course, what buildings lay on the other side of the road.

If you own the copyright on this photo, or know who does, please let us know.
Fifty or sixty or so years later all the semi-rural charm has disappeared and Lawrence Avenue is a very nondescript looking area indeed. At this time it could hardly justify the name 'Avenue' as there wasn't a tree in sight.
In this shot we're slightly further down the road and we can see housing dating from a later period on either side. The semi-detached house just above the Morris Minor, the large house opposite, and the white-washed house in the background were not long for this world as, in the early 70s, the Middlewich Inner Relief Road, or St Michael's Way, came along, slicing right through the middle of the road and creating the current Lawrence Avenue East and West.

In this small section of the Ordnance Survey map of Middlewich dated 1907-8 and updated to 1938, the road is clearly and uncompromisingly marked 'Lawrence Gardens' but there is no sign of the trees shown in our top photo - the road cuts straight through from Wheelock Street to Webbs Lane.
To the left, though, is a large area of what seem to be orchards (in the present day occupied mostly by sheltered housing) which are probably the last remnants of what used to be Lawrence Gardens.
For reference, here's that section of map again with today's St Michael's Way added (rather clumsily) in blue.
So the closest we can get to the answer to our question - when did Lawrence Gardens become Lawrence Avenue? is:
Sometime between 1938 and 1974.
As always we welcome comments and additional information.

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Geraldine Williams I suppose, by rights it should have been called 'Lawrences's Gardens as the house there was the home of C F Lawrence and the orchard was always know locally as 'Lawrence's Orchard'. And shouldn't an avenue, by definition, be lined with trees? just sayin'!

Dave Roberts I'd always assumed that Lawrence Gardens/Avenue was named after CFL himself, but the area (and the name) obviously pre-dates him and is named for his family. I wonder why the name 'Lawrence Gardens' wasn't officially retained?

Geraldine Williams I think you're probably right about it being a family name. I don't know CFL's dates*, but a relative of ours was prosecuted as a lad for scrumping apples from Lawrence's Orchard - and he was born in 1905! Incidentally, my husband's grandparents lived in teh house shown in the first photograph with the group with the pram outside...
I have childhood memories of Kitty Lawrence, who i think was CFL's widow, but must have been much younger than him when they married. I'm not sure whether or not she was a writer. Their house was accessed from a pathway down by that white bungalow on the left, but I don't know if it is still standing.

*April 15, 1873 – June 29, 1940 - Ed



Friday 27th September at the Salinae Centre  

from 9:30am till 12pm.

There will be tea, coffee and cakes available and also a

raffle with some great prizes.

If you're unable to go but still want to donate then you can, 

  by texting COFFEE 51E to 70550. One text is £5 and all 

money goes to Macmillan to help support the great work 

they do.

(Laura Estcourt)


The Winsford Salt Fair is an annual event which started last year and  promoted as part of a link-up between the three Mid-Cheshire salt towns, Winsford, Middlewich and Northwich.
This year's Salt Fair ended on the 15th September, but there are more events to come in Northwich and Middlewich in September and October
Middlewich Heritage has information on the Winsford Fair and also events in Middlewich and Northwich scheduled for this month and next month. We'll bring you more details of these events soon.


Sunday 8 September 2013


by Dave Roberts
It's That Man Again! Another addition to our growing collection of Harry Jackson pictures courtesy of Stuart Warren Twigg, showing Harry working away at what is now almost a forgotten trade - TV repair.
From the look of the set Harry is ministering to, this picture will have been taken in the late 50s/early 60s when a visit from the TV repair man was almost like a visit from the family doctor.
There were the same anxious looks from family members as the 'symptoms' were discussed; was there trouble with the vertical or horizontal hold? Was it a simple matter of a valve needing replacement? Was the co-axial cable getting a little frayed? Did the transformer need rewinding?
Or - horror of horrors - had the tube itself 'gone'?
If your tube had 'gone' then you faced the prospect of the set being taken away to the TV equivalent of hospital and being attended to by specialists such as Harry, who is seen here at, presumably, Whiston's radio repair shop in Wheelock Street assessing the chances of someone's prized set being coaxed back to life.
Because of the unpredictability of valve TVs and their being so prone to breakdown, many people rented sets from Whiston's, Harold Woodbine's, Vernon Cooper's or, somewhat later, Douglas Williams & Co.
This meant that, if your set had to be taken away to be repaired, you did at least have the dubious pleasure of watching a set lent to you by your local TV rental shop.
In theory, at least, this meant uninterrupted viewing pleasure.
In practice, however, it was a bit of a mixed blessing. Loan sets were invariably badly maintained and usually had slightly blurred pictures showing people with highly elongated features like coneheads or squashed up faces like munchkins.
You were lucky if you could locate the vertical hold control in order to stop the picture rolling up and down and inducing a weird kind of motion sickness.
Illustration: BBC
In fact in those days to have a 'good picture' on your set was a cause of great pride and owners would turn on their sets for visitors to show them what a good few hours of twiddling the brightness and contrast controls could achieve.
If you had made the bold move of buying your set outright - always a very expensive business  - any breakdown involving the set being taken away led to long nights staring glumly at the corner where the TV usually resided and listening to the Light Programme or the Home Service on the wireless.
Until 1956 Middlewich could only receive one channel - BBC Television, from Holme Moss in Yorkshire. When ITV came along, in the form of  Granada TV - uncompromisingly 'from the North' - and the much brasher, showbizzy ABC 'Your Weekend Television In The North', viewers were faced with the choice of either getting a new set or buying an 'ITV Converter', a primitive early form of set-top box which could pick up  programmes from the BBC's  new competitor with the added attraction of squiggly lines all over the picture because of co-channel interference.
A 'Band 3 Converter'  in brown crackle finish,
just like the one we had.

Anyone who has ever used the tuner on one of those early 'dual channel' sets will remember the experience vividly.
A circular knob, rather like a miniature water-wheel and with segments numbered from 1 to 13 was turned, causing much flashing on the screen and clicking and crunching on sound, between BBC TV on Channel 2 and Granada/ABC on Channel 9 which came  from Winter Hill near Bolton. In fact ITV and BBC digital channels, along with a bewildering array of other offerings, still come from there.

Photo: BBC

Photo: Granada TV

Photo: Associated-British Corporation

Photo: The Countryman. 

It was all light years away from today's flat screen, multi-channel world, but TV then had an excitement about it which has all but vanished through over-familiarity and the sheer abundance of television everywhere you go these days.
For many people television has been around for over 60 years and, though it's tempting to laugh at those early days, it's such a personal medium that more often we end up shedding a few nostalgic tears instead. 

Photo: WTFK syndicate

And's the Test Card, and some music...

Photo: BBC/The Test Card Circle

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David Roberts Such was the prestige of the job in the 60s and 70s that TV techs were entitled to fuel their vehicles when there was a fuel shortage. Today it's hard going with very little manufacturer support and virtually no service manuals or fault data.

from the 'Bring Back Regional TV' Facebook Group.

(Note: No, 'David Roberts' is not me. the name's just a coincidence).



Another Middlewich Musical Evening.
On the last Wednesday evening of every month